Western Carolina University

Location: Cullowhee, North Carolina
Website: http://www.wcu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Western Carolina University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

  • University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment

    January 10, 2006

    FIRE teamed up with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy to release the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The Report notes that UNC System’s many speech codes and illiberal restrictions on religious groups would likely not survive a legal challenge. It also reveals that “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

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Yellow Light Policies
  • University Policies: Use of Computers and Data Communications 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Harassment of other users may be the sending of unwanted messages or files. Violations include, but are not limited to:

    • interfering with the legitimate work of another user, to include sending of chain mail or other non-university related messages;
    • the sending of abusive or obscene messages via computers;
    • the use of computer resources to engage in abuse of computer personnel or other users.

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  • University Policies: Solicitation, Assemblies, and Public Addresses 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    “Recognized Student Organization” means the Student Government Association and other student clubs and groups that have been officially recognized by the University.  A Recognized Student Organization also may be considered an “affiliated group.”

    “Non-University Group” is a group other than a University Group or Recognized Student Organization that is a legally separate entity from the University, even though some of the members or participants may be University personnel, alumni, or students.  A Non-University Group also may be a single individual.

    University Groups, Recognized Student Organizations, and Non-University Groups alike may distribute leaflets, brochures or other written materials in any open, exterior campus space; provided, however, that materials may not be placed on parked vehicles consistent with Section XI.E below. Anyone distributing materials must do so in accordance with additional provisions found in Sections VII.C and XI below, and must comply with laws pertaining to defamation, obscenity, littering, and other applicable laws.

    Recognized Student Organizations and University Groups may conduct Assemblies or Public Addresses without prior approval at any exterior campus location.  …  Groups comprised of eight (8) or more persons should notify the Director of University Police and Parking Services and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the Assembly/Public Address so that safety measures may be provided if necessary.

    Non-University Groups (whether the groups are sponsored by a Recognized Student Organization or University Group or are unsponsored) may conduct Assemblies or Public Addresses at exterior campus locations as follows: (1) without prior approval/scheduling, on the sidewalks adjacent to Centennial Drive, Forest Hills Road, and Central Drive; or (2) with prior approval/scheduling, on the southeast section of the Hinds University Center lawn, or the Central Plaza as may be determined by the Director of the University Center.

     No outdoor assembly may be conducted within 200 feet of a childcare playground or facility during operating hours, within 50 feet of any building, or within 50 feet of any other individual’s or group’s outdoor assembly. The University may place barriers or other boundary indicators that must be respected during an outdoor assembly.

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Student Conduct: Definitions 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies

    The term “Bullying” means any pattern of written, electronic, or verbal communication, behavior, gesture, or any physical act(s) that is threatening or intimidating at any University sponsored function or uses any University network which (i) places a person in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his/her person or damage to his/her property, or (ii) creates a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or a University student employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of his/her job.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Definitions 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    “Sexual Harassment” is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it negatively affects the victim’s activities or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational or employment environment.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: Definitions 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    The term “unlawful harassment” means unwelcome or unsolicited speech or conduct based upon race, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, military veteran status, political affiliation or sexual orientation that creates a hostile environment for students, or denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the University’s programs, or interferes with an employee’s work performance. … UNC Board of Governors Policy Manual 700.4.2 states and requires:

    No student shall threaten, coerce, harass or intimidate another person or identifiable group of persons, in a manner that is unlawful or in violation of a constitutionally valid University policy, while on University premises or at University-sponsored activities based upon the person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, disability, or veteran status. No student shall engage in unlawful harassment leading to a hostile environment. Unlawful harassment includes conduct that creates a hostile environment by meeting the following criteria: It is:

    a. Directed toward a particular person or persons;
    b. Based upon the person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender-identify, creed, disability, or veteran status;
    c. Unwelcome;
    d. Severe or pervasive;
    e. Objectively offensive; and
    f. So unreasonably interferes with the target person’s employment, academic pursuits, or participation in University-sponsored activities as to effectively deny equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.

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  • Sexual Harassment and Other Unlawful Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    With regard to students, sexual harassment is defined by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) as unwelcome sexually harassing conduct that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment (Hostile Environment). 

    “Unlawful harassment” is a type of discrimination involving unwelcome or unsolicited speech or conduct based upon race, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, military veteran status, political affiliation or sexual orientation, which creates a hostile environment for employees or students. 

    “Hostile environment” is one that a reasonable person (objective standard) would find hostile or abusive and one that a complainant under this Policy perceives to be hostile or abusive (subjective standard).  Hostile  environment is determined by looking at all of the circumstances, including the frequency of the allegedly harassing conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, the extent to which the conduct was intended to harm, harass or exploit the complainant, and whether the conduct actually and substantially interferes with an employee’s work performance or a student’s ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the University’s education programs and activities.

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  • Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    This institution exists for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and expression are necessary for the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.

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  • ‘Free Speech Semester’ at Western Carolina

    January 26, 2011

    On Monday, Western Carolina University (WCU) commenced a semester-long “Celebration of the First Amendment” with a presentation by Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. The presentation was sponsored by WCU’s campus newspaper, The Western Carolinian, and funded by a 2010-11 Louis Ingelhard First Amendment Award Grant from the College Media Association.  WCU is one of the 27 percent of schools we reviewed in our 2011 speech code report that have yellow-light ratings, which means that it has policies that could too easily be used to ban or excessively regulate protected speech. (More information about WCU’s speech […]

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